Need a professional plumber’s opinion

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by kenwalkerconst, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. kenwalkerconst

    kenwalkerconst New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Pinson, Al ( Birmingham )
    I’m a builder in Alabama, my plumber of 15 years contacted ALS and was forced to close his business and cancel his insurance back in 2010. One of the last jobs he did for me was an upper scale house completed Jan 2009. Feb 2012 I received a call that the dishwasher supply line had flooded the house, a neighbor had shut off the supply line by the time I had arrived and I spent time looking over the damage and in the process we ended up in the basement where the homeowner showed me that both ( I normally install 2 water heater in large homes ) had also "leaked". I showed them the pop-off drains and they confirmed that was where it was coming from. I explained that these were set to "leak" at above 150 PSI and the problem was the regulator. This subdivision has very high street pressure sometimes seen in the neighborhood of 225PSI.

    I called my present plumber - as luck would have it I got his VM - and asked him to give the homeowner a call. I explained to them how a regulator worked and like any mechanical device it could fail or apparently in this case get trash or stuck-open temporally as the pressure at the time seamed normal. When the plumber calls, have him replace the regulator and fix the dishwasher supply line.

    I called the plumber the next day and even though the homeowner kept him on the phone for over a half hour they did not want him to come by. Long-story-short, their insurance people had gotten involved and apparently did not want me or my people. A few weeks later I started getting calls from my liability insurance carrier, I explained all that I saw and my assessment of the cause. What it has boiled down to is their insurance is saying "that no ferrule was used so the tubing ( plastic ) slipped of the cut-off to the dishwasher". I never saw whether there was a ferrule or not, so other than lie it is his word against the evidence of what I did see.

    My question, is there any way a plastic supply line could hold together under normal 55-70 PSI pressure for 3 years without blowing off or even leaking? I’ve obviously ask this of my plumber but a totally unbiased consensus would be appreciated. Thanks in advance as my insurance has paid and I have a $2,500 deductible riding on it.
  2. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    I'm sorry, but I'm not a professional plumber...

    It sounds like you're going to have the burden of proving that it did have the ferrule on it...but I think that you know what. When a product is installed outside of the manufacturer's guidelines/instructions, you'll likely not obtain performance information. If they tell you that it will last exactly three years and one month, then now they're liable when it fails at three years and zero months.

    My question for you is, at those pressures, why did you not install a PRV? Water under the bridge...I know.

    Also, it sounds like your plumber (buddy or not) would be the one liable for this mistake...it should be his burden of proving that he placed the ferrule on the pipe. At a minimum, he should pay your deductible. If he canceled his insurance, the question is would it be covered now if he did the work when the policy was active? Dunno.
  3. kenwalkerconst

    kenwalkerconst New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Pinson, Al ( Birmingham )
    Did have a PRV installed that is what I assumed failed due to both WH'er pop-off "popping" off.

    "question is would it be covered now if he did the work when the policy was active? Dunno" Good question and I asked, and no they don't cover after cancellation even when it was done under coverage.

    Friend or not and yes we became good friends, no way I'm going to go to a guy with ALS ( Lou Gehrig's disease) and ask for money.
  4. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    I see.

    Your insurance company might go after him. :(
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    As to your question about delayed failure...that answer is YES. I suspect most of the guys here can quote a case where an unglued PVC pipe, or something like your example of missing ferrule or insert.....held for a very long time..years....and then just for some little bump, or no reason at all....pops loose.

    But you need to pursue that regulator. The evidence of the water heaters is significant..... flex, poly,or pex line...will take 200 PSI. Bad things will happen
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,831
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The real question is why a plastic line was used for a dishwasher supply line. Yoi want them to get fixated on the fact that the "ferrule" was missing. Once you get that into evidence you might be home free. Because it would have to be an "insert" not the ferrule, since the ferrule holds the tubing and without it it would have "fallen" out of the fitting even before the water was turned on.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  7. kenwalkerconst

    kenwalkerconst New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Pinson, Al ( Birmingham )
    Being a non-plumber I said plastic, it was a pex line to the dishwasher. They took a phone deposition from me and I talked about what I saw and simply said that when you push house pressure to above 150 PSI something will pop and the DW supply line was just the weakest link, I just now received the arbitration decision which is the first I've seen of their claim that there was not a ferrule "The evidence supports that there was likely a high pressure event that prompted the line to come loose, but that the line was able to come loose due to the lack of a ferrule". Whether or not a house plumbing will hold together at 150 PSI is debatable but I see this ferrule issue as an out and out lie.

    In my mind it boils down to two things 1) Ferrule. I can't see with a missing ferrule how this could have not only have stayed together but also not leaked form day one, must less lasted 3 years. Even at normal pressure what kept it together, how could this not leak? 2) Pressure. They conceded a "high pressure event", in my opinion at 150 PSI something -the weakest link in the chain - will fail but my opinion as a non-plumber don't count. That is the reason I'm asking.
  8. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    You are 1/2 right and 1/2 wrong the high pressure event was caused by thermal expansion off of the two
    water heaters and there fore you need a thermal expansion tank installed a.s.a.p. To prevent future
    problems !
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,831
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; the high pressure event was caused by thermal expansion off of the two
    water heaters and there fore you need a thermal expansion tank installed a.s.a.p. To prevent future

    1.You have nothing in the original posting to base that opinion on.
    2. The T&P valve should have limited any pressure increase, regardless of the cause, to 150 psi
    3. IF the T&P valve "failed" then NOTHING in the plumbing system, including the water heater, is rated for safe operation at more than 150 psi.
    4. A failed PRV is NOT the original installer's liability. It is the manufacturer's, assuming it is still under warranty.
    5. PEX is plastic, regardless of what you call it.
    6. I once had a customer's insurance company try to make me accept liability for a softener they had purchased and I installed 15 years previously, becauses the plastic tank burst and flooded the house. Between the time I installed it and it broke the city had increased the pressure and their claim was that I should have installed a PRV on the system when I installed the softener, regardless of what the pressure was at the time. Their claim was refused.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  10. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    With a street pressure of 225 psi. And the regulator holding at 80 psi per code,
    then thermal expansion would be causing the t & p valves to drip over a 3 year period they can lime up enough not to respond as fast as necessary, which is why plumbing code and the mfg's installation requires
    a thermal expansion tank,
    when the dishwasher valve closes it causes a water hammer effect back though the supply tubing the fact that it lasted 3 years was the same as someone winning the 5 & 1/4 million power ball !
    Go buy a lottery ticket
  11. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    By the way these same conditions will also cause a water heater tank to burst also,
    this why the mfg's require a expansion tank
  12. mikeplummer

    mikeplummer Plumber

    Messages:
    190
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    my quetion would be what is the connectin to the dishwasher with pex that uses a ferrul? im assuming a compession joint, which would fail (leak) under any amount of pressure without the ferrule.
  13. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Not if the tubing was pushed all the way into the valve and the nut really tighten down it might last
    but was still the weak point
  14. kenwalkerconst

    kenwalkerconst New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Pinson, Al ( Birmingham )
    Thank you Mike and HJ, I might have given too much information.

    With a standard shut-off valve for pex piping ( the failure was at the shut-off valve ) could this connection a) stay together without a ferrule for 3 years or b) not leak under normal regulated 55 -75 PSI for the same 3 years?

    And a follow up question, at greater than 150 PSI would not at some point ( weakest link ) a failure of even correctly installed components be expected?

    My background (23 years) before homebuilding was electrical power plant designer and if I had a transformer ( functionally the same as a PRV ) fail and allow 3X the voltage onto the system I could tell you that I would expect equipment failure(s).
  15. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,129
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If the PRV was failing, then the homeowner should have repaired it, and not waited for something catastrophic.

    When pressure goes from 60 PSI to over 150, they know.
  16. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,831
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Water heaters are TESTED to 300 psi, and since the T&P valve SHOULD release at the maxmum perating pressure" of 150 psi, it will NOT cause the heater to burst. In fact, almost ALL plumbing items are rated for up to 150 psi. Without a "ferrule" it would have failed "immediately". Without an "insert sleeve" there is no way to tell when, or even IF, it would have failed. There are too many "unknowns" to even begin to try to assess blame, assuming anyone was actually negligent and it was not just an unpreventable fluke. But insurance companies are ALWAYS going to try to subrogate any loses if they can find a scapegoat. I once replaced a broken hose to a washing machine at 3:00 a.m. It was after midnight, but it did not occur to me to change the date, so the ticket was dated for the previous date. When the homeowner applied to his insurance company to have the damages repaired, he gave them my bill to show what had happened. THe insurance company then tried to bill my insurance company saying that I replaced the hose on one day, (he date of the invoice) and it broke the next day, so I must have installed a defective hose. It took a lot of talking, often using the smallest possible words, so they could understand them, to get them to understand that I replaced the hose that broke and it was NOT my hose that broke.
  17. kenwalkerconst

    kenwalkerconst New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Pinson, Al ( Birmingham )
    You said; Without a "ferrule" it would have failed "immediately".

    Because my plumber at the time has been force to terminate his company / insurance, my insurance is forced to fill the gap and they said; "The evidence supports that there was likely a high pressure event that prompted the line to come loose, but that the line was able to come loose due to the lack of a ferrule".

    I contend that the PRV failed ( no idea if it was ever replaced ) and it appears that my insurance's arbitrator agrees but he goes on to take the word of the other insurance's plumber that there was no ferrule. HJ, you and my present plumber agree that w/o a ferrule this would failed immediately. I don't see how the insurance arbitrator's statment could be true.

    Would you pay the $2,500 deductable?

    If not how would you counter their argument?

    Would you honor your warranty on residential plumbing at >150PSI pressure?
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